Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) defended his tentative debt ceiling agreement with President Joe Biden amid backlash from his party.
“There’s so much in this that’s positive,” McCarthy said during a May 28 appearance on Fox News Sunday.
On the evening of May 27, McCarthy announced during a press conference that he and Biden had reached what he called “an agreement in principle that’s worthy of the American people” to raise the debt ceiling. In addition to raising the debt ceiling, the bill would cap non-defense spending at its previous levels, enhance work requirements for government assistance, and reclaim unspent COVID-19 relief funds, among other measures.
But some Republicans are unhappy with the deal.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) called it a “surrender.”
Others, like Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Ralph Norman (R-S.C.), and Dan Bishop (R-N.C.) have also indicated their opposition to the broad outlines of the package.
McCarthy suggested that these criticisms are mistaken, however.
He praised the tentative deal for its provisions cutting federal expenditures.
“Think about this: we were finally able to cut spending,” he said. “We’re the first Congress to vote for cutting spending year over year.
“So, you cut that back, you fully fund the veterans, you fully fund defense, but you take that non-defense spending all the way back to lower than ’22 levels.
“Now you get work requirements for [cash welfare and food stamps].”
McCarthy said the deal would also “streamline” the process of building new infrastructure. Where it currently can take years to get government authorization to build a new road, McCarthy said, the agreement would limit that review period to only a year.
“We’re gonna get America working again,” McCarthy said.
“This is really a step in the right direction,” McCarthy said, contrasting this package with previous debt ceilings that saw no spending cuts. “It puts us on a trajectory that’s different.”
The tentative deal is one that leaves neither Republicans nor Democrats entirely happy, and congressional leaders still face the challenge of advancing the deal through both chambers.
Despite these challenges, McCarthy expressed confidence that the bill could pass.
“I think you are going to get a majority of Republicans voting for this bill,” McCarthy said on Fox News Sunday.
McCarthy said that though he’s been in regular communication with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), he has not yet asked Democrats for support to get the bill over the finish line in the House.
“Right now, the Democrats are very upset. The one thing Hakeem told me: ‘There is nothing in the bill for them,’” McCarthy said.
McCarthy holds a slim majority in the lower chamber and heads up a deeply ideologically divided caucus. Thus, it’s unclear if the deal could pass with only GOP votes, or if McCarthy will be forced to look across the aisle for support.
Democrats have made clear that they won’t support a package just because the White House does.
McCarthy is set to meet with the president again on May 28. After the meeting, Jeffries said in a letter to colleagues, the text of the tentative deal will be released.
From The Epoch Times